‘Lost in History 1984 Reconstructed’ by Gunisha Kaur, delivers a clear and brief interpretation of the human rights violations against Sikhs, leading up to the attack on Darbar Sahib, Amritsar in 1984. Specialising in human rights research, the Anesthesiologist shares her personal learning experience gained from previous generations, and empathetically talks about the traumatic repercussions the Sikhs had endured pre and post these series of events. Not only is the author’s main aim to pay a tribute to individuals directly affected by these brutalities, but Kaur also seeks to touch many hearts whilst also inspiring booklovers to develop their curiosity further on this critical moment in Sikh History.
The reader is welcomed by and left with many sources and further reading that highly influenced Kaur’s thoughts and opinions in this text. In the Preface, Kaur emphasises the necessity to build this light read into a deeper exploration on these encounters; leaving the audience keen to know more. Artfully, the resolution to this is how Kaur ends this section proposing a challenge and invites the reader to continue their research journey in hope that action is taken against human rights abuses; further encouraging many generations to follow and continue the fight against tyranny and most importantly, to ensure that these events do not get ‘Lost in History’.
Comprised of ten chapters, Kaur rightfully starts by stating key doctrines in Sikhi; the fundamental values that forever remain at the centre of the Sikh nation. While introducing the meaning of ‘Genocide’ in the first chapter, the author makes strong linkages to the term via explaining and evidencing how complexities arose at which these ideals were challenged in Sikh History, from the time of Guru Nanak through to the events of 1984.
‘Broken Promises’ touches on India’s battle against the British Empire for freedom, while exposes many false propositions made to Sikhs during the struggle for independence. Furthermore, the role of political parties in India and their connection to the British, particularly the likes of Sir Cyril Radcliffe; in charge of the partition of Punjab are discussed, and how this negatively impacted the ongoing battle faced and elevated tensions between Sikhs and the Indian government and the British.
As the story unfolds chapter by chapter, Kaur further investigates the series of occurrences in 1984, running through the timeline of the planning and execution of ‘Operation Bluestar’, aftermath following the assassination of Indra Gandhi and the ‘Disappearances in Punjab.’ Not forgetting the necessity to highlight such revolutionary figures and their role in the Sikh struggle, including the likes of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Jaswant Singh Kalra and many more.
Through breaking down the nature of atrocities that took place, combined with providing a deep analysis on India’s parliamentary system, the author successfully allows the reader to easily comprehend and realise the governments strategic performance in place. Utilising inflammatory propaganda in evoking fear, violence on Sikhs, Kaur paints a vivid picture of how corruption and lack of legislative implementation dominated Punjab. Further commenting on the roles of administrators at the time, Kaur quotes the credited opinion of Ajit Singh Bains, ‘In the hands of unscrupulous people, even the most democratic and humane state can become oppressive, tyrannical and dictatorial. In such cases, the rule of law is the casualty.’
To conclude, a brief biography on Gunisha Kaur is added, allowing the reader to connect to their sympathetic account of what is believed to be one of ‘the great scenes of human cruelty in the 20th century’.
This book is highly recommended to those who wish to explore the events of 1984 and the context surrounding it. ‘Lost in History 1984 Reconstructed’ is an eye opening work that is vital to understanding these events.
This book is available to purchase via the Naujawani website using the link here